Prairie Village City Council Approves Home Building Guidelines
After two hours of deliberations, public testimonies and a presentation of proposed home building guidelines, the Prairie Village City Council voted 11 to 2 to advance the guidelines.
These guidelines will require a certain number of trees and percentage of green space based on the size of the land. Garage size will also be regulated, and certain exterior walls, depending on size, will require windows. Guidelines will not only apply to rebuilds, but also to additions to existing homes exceeding 200 square feet.
Before the vote, councilmember Serena Schermoly proposed an amendment to the motion, essentially to remove the regulations from existing residents who may want to add on to their homes.
Schermoly argued this was "meddling," and that the rules may as well be requiring certain colors for houses. She said she was concerned this could cause residents to leave Prairie Village as their families expand, rather than allowing them to invest and remodel their homes to meet their needs.
Before Schermoly's amendment went to a vote, Mayor Laura Wassmer reminded the council that the city has been discussing potential home-building guidelines for four years.
"We have talked with people until we were blue in the face," Wassmer said.
By Monday night's City Council meeting, there had been eight city and planning commission meetings, three public hearings and feedback collected from more than 600 residents, not to mention the dozens of emails many councilmembers fielded on the issue. Additionally, the guidelines on the table Monday night were amended and approved unanimously by the Planning Commission last month.
Wassmer told the council this was not the time to be "nitpicking" or "redoing."
"It's not going to be perfect, but we have to start somewhere. If we get into it and it cause unintended consequences, we can look at it again," she said. "At some point we have to say, enough is enough."
Only one councilmember joined Schermoly in voting to amend the guidelines, so the amendment did not advance. Schermoly and Ted Odell were the only two councilmembers who voted against the guidelines.
After Monday night's vote, the new rules will take effect early next year.
This story has been corrected to clarify Ted Odell voted against the guidelines.
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